United Nations Refugee Agency finds amended Rwanda Bill still breaches international law

the UK-Rwanda treaty runs "counter to fundamental principles of global solidarity"

Rishi Sunak reading from a folder on a train

Rishi Sunak’s newly amended UK-Rwanda treaty is still “not compatible” with international refugee law, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has declared.

In a report by the UNHCR published on Monday, the agency said that, despite updates to the scheme, it maintained its position that the deal “does not meet the required standards relating to the legality and appropriateness of the transfer of asylum seekers”.

The initial Rwanda scheme, which seeks to send asylum-seekers from the UK to Rwanda, was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court in November after Rwanda was found unsafe to remove asylum seekers to, due to poor human rights records.

Since then, Sunak has laid out new plans to push the plan into fruition in the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, which states that Rwanda is in fact safe for asylum seekers. Furthermore the government has claimed it can “address the Supreme Court’s concerns”, having published a new treaty with additional safeguards.

However the UNHCR has come out and said the changes do not fix systemic issues with the scheme, concluding that the treaty “does not overcome continued procedural fairness and other protection gaps”.

The report states that the UK-Rwanda partnership runs “counter to fundamental principles of global solidarity and responsibility-sharing”, by shifting refugee protection responsibility on to another country.

With £240 million paid to Rwanda so far, the Government are fixated to see it through. However it also threatens to cause chaos in the Party from right-wing rebel Tory MPs who don’t think the bill has gone far enough. Lee Anderson, Tory deputy party chairman has joined a group of over 60 Tory MPs backing amendments to the legislation, threatening to abstain or vote against the bill later today.

(Image credit: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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